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Online course

Exploring Copyright: History, Culture, Industry

Understand the importance of copyright and learn its history, from the Renaissance to the Internet, with this free online course.

Exploring Copyright: History, Culture, Industry

Explore the meaning of the term 'copyright'

Have you ever thought about how a composer or a writer makes a living? This course will explore the history of creators becoming professionals. You’ll learn how copyright law developed from the idea that an artistic work is the property of its creator. You’ll discover how advances in communication, beginning with the invention of the printing press in the 15th century, have enabled the growth of the creative industries. We’ll also consider why the latest digital technologies present both opportunities and challenges for today’s copyright holders.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 7 secondsCreative industries are part of everyone's life. We all listen to music, enjoy films, watch TV programs, go to the theatre and read books. The creators of these works produce the soundtrack for our lives My name is Jean-Michel Jarre. I am an artist, a performer and a creator. And I am here to invite you on a journey about creative industries and copyright. This course is all about the system of copyright and authors' rights, and its importance to creative industries. Music, paintings, literature and audio-visual works are the substance of our culture and cultural heritage.

Skip to 0 minutes and 52 secondsStudies have shown the great economic importance that creative industries bring: they create jobs, and they support economic growth and development.

Skip to 1 minute and 2 secondsAll of this depends on one key thing: copyright protection. Copyright is the cornerstone of creative industries. But what is the subject matter of copyright? What is protected exactly? How does copyright work? Why exactly do creative industries depend on copyright? As an artist, I'm deeply involved with technology and excited for our new digital world.

Skip to 1 minute and 30 secondsBut, we have to ask: Who gave and still gives the fuel and the reason for this industry to exist and to grow so big? it is thanks to copyright and the legal framework that has been built over centuries. To discuss all these issues, I invite you to join us

Skip to 1 minute and 50 secondsfor the course Exploring Copyright: History, Culture, Industry. I'm sure that all of those joining the course will be stimulated by the discussions we are inviting learners to participate in. I'm curious to learn about your conclusions.

What topics will you cover?

  • Key events in the development of the concept of authorship and the legal framework for the protection of intellectual work.
  • The impact of technology for the economic, political and social aspects of those key events.
  • The process of harmonisation of the guiding principles of national legislations for the protection of creators and artistic work.
  • The formation of associations through which creators fight for rights and build an operational structure to take care of these rights.
  • The internationalisation of the legal framework and the inauguration of the first multilateral agreements for the protection of intellectual work.
  • Changes in the international treaties to account for the technological development and its impact on creative activity.
  • Challenges for creators and other players in the creative industries, as well as for the legal framework, international and domestic, presented by digital technology and the new market arising from it.

When would you like to start?

  • Available now
  • Date to be announced

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Be familiar with the concepts of copyright and authors’ rights.
  • Understand how copyright became a powerful tool in the marketplace for artistic works.
  • Learn about the legal framework for the protection of creative works.
  • Raise awareness of the legal protection system as an essential tool for building a fair trade market for creators.

Who is the course for?

This is an introductory course open to anyone with an interest in history and copyright. It might also be of interest to anyone in the creative and cultural industries.

This course is also available in Spanish and Portuguese.

What do people say about this course?

Thank you for providing an excellent course. I learned a lot and have a much clearer understanding of the main points surrounding copyright. I feel like I can better explain the history and progression of rights surrounding intellectual property and artistic works to others, and can apply this knowledge to my work as a songwriter and publisher.

Rohan Healy

Thank you for a fascinating and very informative course. I have a mountain of new knowledge and, due to the additional links, access to a mountain more (...). Many, many thanks, most enjoyable.

Andy Perratt BA (Hons) Hum (Open)

Who will you learn with?

Marisa Gandelman

I worked as a musician and music teacher. I became a lawyer in copyrights. I did a Doctorate in International Relations and worked as CEO in a composer’s association. Now I’m an educator again.

Ben Costantini

Ben is an instructor in Global Entertainment and Music Business at the Valencia Campus of Berklee College of Music.

Who developed the course?

CISAC, the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers, is the world’s leading network of authors’ societies.

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Join this course


  • Access to this course for 6 weeks
  • Includes any articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes

Upgrade - $79

  • Unlimited access to this course
  • Includes any articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes
  • Tests to validate your learning
  • Certificate of Achievement to prove your success when you're eligible

Course highlights Get a taste of this course before you join: